Dogfish Reef, Furnace, Loch Fyne 30th January 2011

Vase Coral (Haliclona ureolus) with seal loch anenomies (Protanthea simplex)

Sunday diving in winter really doesn’t get better than this, an interesting dive, good weather and enjoyable local amenities. Dogfish Reef is an excellent example of one of the many accessible shore dives in Loch Fyne and with the good visibility that we encountered and ambient light penetrating all the way down to the bottom of the reef it was a marked contrast to the dark and dismal dives of the inner lochs.

A fresh peppering of snow on the hills and a noticeable oily layer had surface temperatures in the 4-5 degrees but below 6m we had a balmy 9 degrees. With fins on at the water’s edge, the first dive saw us following the kelp and then sinking down the steep boulder slope to a respectable depth, turning left and searching the nooks and crannies for dogfish. I was about to give up when the flashing torch indicated success and the first of four fish was found hiding in the rocks. Four dogfish and big ones too!

This was the lesser spotted dogfish (Scyliorhinus canicula) as can be seen from the nasal flaps which extent to the lips.

This site has a fantastic coverage of sealoch anenomies and a few striking example a soft corals. Haliclona ureolus

So with limited bottom time we took the diagonal return across the boulder slope enjoying the delights of blue corals

Blue encrusting sponge

and prawns, crabs and corkwing wrasse and all sorts of worms and tunicates.

The second dive was similar though having taken some local advise we went just 5 m deeper and reached dogfish city, in one small patch of rocks there were dogfish in twos and threes in every crevice in the boulder slope. Within five minutes the novelty of seeing them wore off, there were just too many and we moved on as we were limited in our bottom time. We traversed and returned across the slope slightly deeper finding a section of the reef covered in the anenomies and ending at a sunken concrete pontoon which signalled the start of out ascent and brought us back nicely to the entry point. A massive ballan wrasse was to be found here in the middle of the pontoon.

The life continued to enthrall us, even in the shallows where we watched dancing sea gooseberries. Shining a torch on these resulted in bioluminescence radiating down the internal filaments.

All in all two very good dives.

To warm up we ventured into the George at Inverary and entertained ourselves by enjoying strange brews from the landlords taps before driving back over the Rest and be Thankful to get back to Crieff by 17:30.

a few more photos here